Heroes in the Sky Review
+ Fast paced
+ Decent graphics, although not the most advanced, which however allow the client to always run smoothly
+ Free to play
+ One of few of this genre
+ Can play solo or in a group, although grouping is encouraged
+ Has both PVE and PVP
+ Lots of planes to choose from, as well as equipment, weapons and so on
+ A flexible "class" system
+ Can use most planes regardless of your spec
+ Missions can branch into different outcomes which are often decided by the player in real time
- Terrible, terrible UI, clunky and not intuitive
- All text is translated however some of the conversations you can hear are left in the original language
- Cash shop has some pay-to-win items, such as premium planes and equipment that changes the performance of your aircraft, however the game is very much skill based
- Crafting system could be explained better
- Very low quest limit in your log (five)
- You can upgrade planes but the success of the upgrade is random; if you fail it you lost that upgrade slot, and you only have 5; there might be some items in the cash shop that prevent failure, but I haven't checked
Heroes in the Sky is a free to play MMO published by GameCampus. The game is set in World War II and you are able to join either the Allied Forces or the Axis. You can both PVE and PVP, so anyone will find something they’ll like to do, whether they want to engage friends into dogfights, or they would rather play in co-op. Since there aren’t many MMOs of this genre out there, I decided to give it a try. Due to my love for shooters I thought this could be fun and I was right.
Watch the gameplay video.
How It Goes
The game is fast paced and supports keyboard, mouse, game pad and joystick controls. While the way they are handled might not be the best, you have a degree of customization which will allow you to tailor the controls to your play style nonetheless. Personally I find joystick and game pad to be work best and be more immersive at the same time. Keyboard felt dreadful, and mouse was better, but still not optimal, although after some time you can get used to it. Whichever you choose, I can assure you, you are in for a load of fun.
You can use fast planes that are best suited for dogfights (aka “fighters”), support planes that buff and heal allies (aka “gunners”), or you can specialize in bombing using… you guessed it, “bomber” aircrafts. Since all aircrafts can dogfight and bomb, at first it seems that bombers are a bit redundant, as the early missions that require bombing can be easily done with a fighter with guns blazing. However when you start bombing in between buildings and you can’t quite graze the ground, you do start feeling like you want a bomber plane. Every aircraft can drop bombs by the way, but bombers are sturdier than the other two types, so they can take more punishment while flying slowly and bombing targets. You will notice that the faster aircrafts such as the fighters and the gunners will make it harder for you hit ground targets. Fighter, gunner and bomber don’t only refer to types of planes but also to the three “classes” with their talent trees. You can fly any plane regardless of your spec for the most part.
The only “persistent world” is the base. You can move your plane around the base as if you were using a normal human avatar, which felt strange. There isn’t much to do there however, since you can reach everything through a menu, including hangar and quest NPCs. The missions are instanced and you start them by creating a room where you can invite friends or allow randoms to join.
You have a plethora of planes to choose from whether you pick Allies or Axis. You’ll find that most planes will have existed in real history, whether they were actually deployed or not.
Without the cash shop, customization is present in the form of equipment and weapons, which there are plenty of. You can change your engines, your propellers, your armor, etc.; you can equip machine guns, rockets, cannons, missiles, bombs, aerial mines, you name it.
With the cash shop, a necessary evil for all free to play games, you can also apply cosmetic changes, such as paint and re-skins. The cash shop does have some pay-to-win items, i.e., equipment and parts that will modify your plane’s performance, however, since this game requires some skill, I don’t think items from the cash shop can tip the balance that much. It’s always a bit risky however for a game that features PVP content.
Skill trees work differently from most MMOs, although I find them a bit clunky. You earn skill points by completing specific missions that reward them, as opposed to just earning them as you level up, and if it wasn’t for the fact that you can only have a maximum of 5 quests at all times, I wouldn’t mind this approach. The problem is that you also want to complete your normal quests which means that, if you would like to complete them all, you might need to re-run some missions more than once. I guess they want you to do so, and it becomes necessary when you get to the higher levels.
The main problem with the skill trees is that you need 5 point for each skill before you can get to the next tier. You’ll probably think that this is common, however, in most MMOs when you place a skill point somewhere, that skill usually improves. Here they don’t until you applied all 5 points. So if you have a skill that heals the party for 15% of their HP, that heal won’t improve for each point you assign. However once you slotted all 5 points, the heal will go up to 18% and the second tier of the skill tree will be unlocked.
The sore spot of this game is the UI. It’s terrible. No, let me rephrase that. It’s terrible. There’s no quit button unless you go to “Change Server” first. You can’t sort rooms in alphabetical order, or in any order, which is annoying if you are looking for a specific room. However if you are in a party you can simply right click on a party member’s name and choose “Follow” and you will be sent to that member’s room. If your party leader creates a room, you will be prompted to join it as well. It took me and the person I was playing with a while to get around all the functions of the UI. It just feels unpolished and unintuitive.
When I first downloaded the game I thought I’d probably play it once or twice like I do with most free-to-play games nowadays. When someone has tried so many MMOs, it’s hard to be impressed. However this game had me hooked for hours and I am still looking forward to playing it again. The graphics aren’t the most breath taking, however they are decent and look good even on an HD monitor however they don’t seem to support a resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels. Despite that, I asked the person I was playing with to try and play the game on her big 1080p TV and it looked nice still. What’s even better is that my FPS never dropped below 60 (and I can’t go above 60 due to my monitor’s frequency), which made the game a joy to play. I believe that it would run on machines with lower specs quite easily.
And the Verdict Is…
If you like the genre, play it. If you like shooters but haven’t tried a flight simulator game, play it. It’s fun and it will get you hooked.